Athletes register students to vote
Student athletes at Washington University organized a non-partisan voter drive that took place on Sept. 24 outside the Athletic Complex.
Senior Sean Wallis and junior Ross Kelley of the men’s basketball team came up with the idea and organized the drive only one week earlier. Wallis got the ball rolling by presenting the idea at a meeting of the Student Athletic Advisory Council, which helped advertise the drive.
Wallis and Kelley drew their inspiration from their class, Topics in Politics: Campaigns and Elections. “Since we are the ones getting booted from our home (the AC), we felt like this would be a good opportunity to get involved before it shut down,” Wallis said. “Between practice and school, it’s a tough demographic to reach, so we wanted to make sure everyone was registered.”
According to Wallis, the College Democrats gave the athletes the voter registration cards and a little training in how to properly fill them out. “That being said, it was a non-partisan voter registration drive, not pro-Obama or pro-McCain,” Wallis added.
“They did a phenomenal job,” College Democrats President Ben Guthorn said. “They should receive all the credit.”
The 10 student athlete volunteers came from a diverse mix of teams including men’s basketball, volleyball, women’s soccer, track and softball. “It was great to see athletes from all the sports get behind this drive,” Kelley said.
Each volunteer worked two-hour shifts during the drive. The drive went from 1-11 p.m. and registered slightly fewer than 50 students.
“It’s good for people to take a stand and vote especially since we’re hosting the vice presidential debate,” senior Krystyn Stowe of the women’s track team said. “Either everyone was already signed up or eager to register.”
The drive even garnered some media attention as KPLR St. Louis CW 11 interviewed a few of the student volunteers.
Both soccer teams, the football team, the volleyball team, the cross country teams, both tennis teams and the swimming and diving team are in season. “A lot of athletes, particularly those in season, were very happy to be able to fill out a registration card so easily and conveniently,” Kelley said.
According to Stowe, Athletics Director John Schael gave the athletes permission to register voters outside the Athletic Complex but told them they could not set up a table. “We had to be careful not to create a fire hazard,” Stowe said.
With permission to stand outside the Athletic Complex, the volunteers were able to get students registered in about one minute.
“It was very convenient to be able to register right outside the AC,” freshman Brittany Hasselbring of the women’s basketball team said. “It was nice to have someone I knew help me through the registration process.”
At the end of the drive, Wallis and senior Tyler Nading collected the cards and mailed them to the appropriate authorities. “It was a great way to engage the athletes in the political atmosphere around campus,” Wallis said.